Forest fires and smoke in northern Quebec are forcing a Cree community in Mistissini to leave home by 8 a.m. Friday morning.
On its Facebook page, the Cree Nation of Mistissini said people are invited to leave with an emergency kit and must go to the Neoskweskau sports complex to register before hitting the road. For those who have a car, the meeting point will be communicated there.
Those who do not have a car should also go to the Neoskweskau sports complex as transportation service will be available.
The community of about 3,000 people will make its way to Chicoutimi, according to Jason Secapio, who works for Mistissini public security.
According to the community, the fire is 28 kilometers from Mistissini.
People with vulnerable health, including those with reduced mobility or long-term health problems, already evacuated Mistissini Tuesday.
“We made the decision to evacuate the community. The evacuation will take effect [Friday] morning. […] We have plenty of time to evacuate,” the Mistissini Chief Michael Petawabano said in a Facebook video.
La Passion de Rubie animal shelter in Alma will take in up to 60 pets at the Mistissini Sports Complex Friday morning. An additional 40 pets can be taken care of by the same shelter if the owners are able to drive them to Alma.
Fire still out of control
According to the province’s fire prevention agency, the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU), the fire closest to Mistissini is still out of control and covers an area of nearly 40,000 hectares.
The Cree Nation of Mistissini Council expects the smoke to make it much harder to see in the next few days.
“Sunday is expected to have really heavy smoke. Driving is expected to be difficult due to low visibility. We have time to evacuate carefully,” says a post on the community’s Facebook page.
Environment Canada issued a special bulletin concerning air quality in the Chibougamau sector Thursday. According to meteorologist Jean-Philippe Bégin, the air quality is very poor.